Yardzen: The Online Design Service Making My Backyard Dream A Reality

A complete Yardzen backyard in Seattle. Image courtesy Yardzen.

When my husband and I purchased our first home together in March 2022, the planting in front of our house didn’t match our taste, and the backyard wasn’t usable for our toddler daughter. Redoing these spaces quickly rose to the top of our list of house projects. We had a clear idea of what we wanted, but didn’t have the skillset to turn that into an actual plan nor the budget to bring on a landscape architect. So, we turned to Yardzen—an online landscape design and build company—to bring our vision to reality.

How Yardzen Works

Yardzen is an online service that connects homeowners like me with landscape designers and contractors who can renovate their outdoor space and home exteriors. Co-founders Allison and Adam created the company after the Tubbs fire ravaged their Northern California property in 2017. As they navigated the landscaping process, they wanted to find a better way—one that doesn’t cost property owners like them tens of thousands of dollars for the design alone.

Yardzen creates your custom landscape design and CAD plans, then you can execute on the plan yourself or with the help of a contractor. To get started on Yardzen, I selected the package that best suited my needs, took photos, videos and measurements of my existing outdoor space, then completed a quiz to create my “design profile” and share inspirational photos.

A peek at the Yardzen user experience.

The service offers several design packages at different price points, starting at $649 for the Botanical plan and going up to $2395 for the Outdoor Transformation plan. While costs vary depending on where you are, the cost for a landscape designer would be upwards of $3,000. Each Yardzen plan includes 3D design renderings, one design revision, and CAD plans, but the scope of work varies from planting design alone to a full exterior overhaul that includes planting, hardscaping and exterior design, as well as contractor matching.

My Design Experience

While we’re planning to do work in phases, we wanted to bring the full vision of what our home exterior could be to life at once. As such, we chose Yardzen’s full Outdoor Transformation plan. This service includes custom planting, hardscaping, and exterior design for my entire property. The materials we receive as part of this package are one design revision, a plant palette, 3D renderings, CAD plans, a shoppable furniture and materials list, and contractor matching from Yardzen’s vetted Pro Network.

Upon creating my account and selecting my package, the next step for my husband and me was to take photos, videos and measurements of our outdoor space. This allows Yardzen to create a 3D rendering of our “before” state, or what we’re intending to renovate from the ground up.

Yardzen generates a 3D render based on the owner’s measurements and photos.
Image courtesy Julia Harter.

From there, we filled out our design profile and reference photos to communicate what we wanted to do with our space. This design profile is the jumping off point for Yardzen’s landscape designers to build our design—but to make sure we set off on the right foot, I opted to do a consultative call ($145 add-on fee) to verbalize what we wanted to achieve since I didn’t feel very confident in my reference photos. Yardzen recommends this consultation call if you want more support in articulating your vision or have a very complicated project.

After a matter of days, I received my first design, which was about 80% on the nose of what we were looking to achieve—pretty great for an online design service. Yardzen’s software allowed me to go through 20+ views of our design and offer specific comments about what we loved, what we wanted to remove, what we wanted to modify, and what we had questions about. I had very real questions such as “Are the plants along the sidewalk resilient to dog urine?”

Each Yardzen package includes one design revision where you can offer comments and feedback.
Image courtesy Julia Harter.

Certain details weren’t quite right, and this design revision step of the process allowed us to get things right before finalizing our design plan.

The Result

A few days after submitting my feedback and requested revisions, I received my final designs. While there are small details like lighting that we’ll continue to research to find the exact right fit, the Yardzen team addressed our remaining notes to get our exterior and planting design the rest of the way there.

In our front yard, we have more contemporary plantings and a new tree to offer privacy in front of our big picture window. Yardzen also selected exterior paint colors that modernize our home with contrast trim and door paint that’s in line with our aesthetic preferences.

The final front yard rendering, which is accompanied by a CAD plan and plant list.
Image courtesy Julia Harter.

For our backyard, we requested that our small space have three zones—one for dining, one for seating and entertaining, and one for children’s play. To achieve this, we opened up the deck and added stadium seating down to the lower area. There, we have additional lounge seating and turf, where we can add a playhouse or a kiddie pool. To ward off the harsh sun that we can get in our backyard, Yardzen added a retractable pergola at our request.

An aerial view of our final backyard design.
Image courtesy Julia Harter.

Now that our design is complete, we have the option to move into the build phase with a Yardzen Pro Contractor, a network that has been thoroughly vetted by the Yardzen team. While we haven’t gotten to this step yet, we’ll consider this option, as well as some DIY elements for pieces of the work we can take on ourselves.

Seeing our vision come to life on screen with Yardzen’s help has been super exciting. We can’t wait to break ground and see it in real life next!

5 more reasons to love Yardzen:

  • Yardzen factors in the unique characteristics of your yard, like local climate, sun and shade patterns, budget, and architectural style to create a fully custom design.
  • They offer a free 15-minute consult call to discuss each customer's project and help them find the right package.
  • Yardzen has been named to Fast Company’s Most Innovative Companies list.
  • They launched the American Rewilding Project to encourage the use of climate-adapted plants and pollinator-supporting habitats in every yard they design.
  • Your designs include shoppable elements from Yardzen partners like Crate and Barrel, Article, Yardbird, Neighbor, Benjamin Moore and Williams Sonoma.

Enhance your outdoor space with Yardzen.

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